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My sister recently put a map of the world in her bedroom, where she dreams always of being chased.
Warfare is the greatest affair of state, the basis of life and death, the Tao of survival and extinction. It must be thoroughly pondered and analyzed.
If you want to succeed in battle, act as if deranged. 1
I overheard two women arguing. One of them was me, in a later life. The other was God. My sister pushes her dream away and we'll call her a mystic; her lived reality defers to the visions, and details of where we'll live, how we'll earn a living, or who is at the door sink into the background. If creatures are helpless in a world of flags and fairies, we can break tyrants with our fists. Why wake up from that vision? If I could remember, I would never return to sunburn, rental cars, boy scout leaders, garbage, greasy hair, no water in the desert, cold nights of sweat and gleaning.
Trust me. Spring the trap - a package with an umbilical cord, ties straining. Mourning doves and the sound of birds and rapids. The wind pushes the river backwards, completing the cycle.
Before night fell into your lap you stared blankly at the traffic light on the corner wondering, why consult the Book of Changes? Every sign you need is right here: fire trucks a staple on brook street, power lines buzzing overhead like soldiers of fortune. The planets align in your seventh house, poking feebly at an electromagnetic field.
So if I ever say anything I'm lying to you. Feel better or worse, see if I care. March toward madness, in the evening we swore up and down to stay alive. Foundry the boundary down to the last gravedigger. Morning or evening times are unimportant; don't live to compete, but fight when you must for a better world. We are all singers and mad and we make less and less money every year. Perhaps you care about all this loss, heaped onto your plate like steaming eggs on an English. Further along and we come to a crossing, where I found you waiting for me and left.
Pretend you have come to a crossing. Not a fork in the yellow wood but a good city intersection, with traffic and manholes and strangers not particularly watching.
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The first settler in Chicago was a black Frenchman. Hundreds of years later my friend finds a vegetarian Soul Food restaurant on the South Side.
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I didn't make anything I'm wearing, didn't even buy it, and my shoes are still tied from last night. Everything I don't own was made in China, or Indonesia.
Politics comes from the same root as polite, according to Helen Drew. Policy change is incremental, and it still takes a lot of energy to make things happen. It's a long haul. You should find someone on the inside to help you, because if you're not sleeping with the enemy, someone else will. Your stories will attract attention, but the battleship needs data, and a pie chart. To prevent a breakup, someone has to go begging, else the world would stop dead in its tracks, nobody would get together, there would be no babies or marriage. And what then? Human Cloning? To prevent a breakup, you've got to swallow, among other things, your pride. (For Valentine's Day I stuck a miniature rosebush on the bedside table, garnished with a red heart balloon. I waited until noon to open my present: four bags of candy, wrapped in a pink ribbon and the New York Times. It's all in the details. )
My boss and I went to a health professcionals' continuing education dinner at the Marriott. The waiters wore tuxedo shirts and refilled everything, and Claudia and I snagged nametags and a table next to the buffet. The conference room was choked with doctors, health professionals, and insurance salesmen. We watched videos of children who can't breathe. The speaker had given a bunch of asthmatic kids home video cameras and told them to shoot away. Believe me. The sight is beyond anything.
Finally you see her, pressed flowers falling out of all her books and stammering on about Goethe. I'd go there too, Johann Wolfgang, if you typed up the nametags. All of a sudden you're going to museums together, where she points out the details. A Madonna comes from the region she lived in Italy. Note the gilt, geometrical halo, the pale Virgin Mary, the Italian storefronts lining the background.
My sister experiences sleep paralysis, when the pressure in her chest wakes her up and she fights to push the nightmare off. I have caught her dreaming when she is shaking like a rabbit, the crimson and clover flashing behind her eyelids.
Warfare is the Tao of deception. Thus although you are capable, display incapability to them. When committed to employing your forces, feign inactivity, when your objective is nearby, make it appear as if distant. When far away, create the illusion of being nearby.2
I wanted to see Indonesia, so I started asking around for someone to walk me there. It's just a six-hour hike across the mountain from where my uncle bends over his firewood, capturing rain off his zinc roof. An old auntie from Pa Umor sent me along with Jonathan. "He's one of us, she reassured me. When I slipped my guide cut a young branch with his machete to help me stand. I slogged in the mud and leeches and he danced over log bridges and listened for wild boar. He understands my grandmother's language better than I. When we crossed the hill that holds the border, we stopped for lunch, unwrapping our rice and kekid. His home is in Berian, famous for its salt springs, Bario offers job opportunities. Jonathan makes the trek from Indonesia every week.
Globalization, seen from below, is a political response, an historical transformation. Economically it marks a change in labor and production, and politically local governments lose a measure of self-control. Local customs lose value, including spiritual traditions, language, and dress. The people respond with accommodation or resistance.
There is no place in the jungle without a blaring cicada. There is a clear bell sounding in your belly that is your gift. This girl waits for her palm to be read in New York City. This is what I'm interested in, the wait. My journal entry reads, I'm so afraid, and moving too fast... Please send something meaningful. I'm dying to get out. I haven't written enough or memorized my lines. Feel this now feel this. That was yesterday.
Garden of days, wine fit for dogs and kings. The debt crisis came and went, like global warming, like the Russian menace, like the feeling I get when we were falling in love. I'm not afraid of anything but time, and this clean slice of bread. Thank you O Lord for food. Several things revolve around the pearl. The world is yelling holiday and all you do is shave your olive head. Enjoy the struggle or find a new line designer in esoteric colors, and you my locust are one of billions.
Once in a blue moon you will be allowed a lover, powder-down or primary feathers. When the servants arrived I shouted at them, ingrates. Once in a red tide the ocean poisons itself, fish and shellfish. Submachine: the human condition. Falling out of love is inevitable, like a hot money cash flows caffeine we drink you sugar high.
In the interest of time you should stay here. Be adroit like a missionary, green fur sprouting from your eyes and nasal passages. We are not exceptional, only oblique, bruised like an apple or obscene finger-paintings. Would you enter the world again?
Placid the lake we met people heads up briefly. Will the fighting benefit We, or the People (Capital P)?
Globalization creates its own opposition. The trick is to see it coming. Globalization says: "You're cheating off my paper."
The difference between poetry and other uses of language is strictly relative, a matter of degree only. The business of poetry is to reveal a world shaping or in truth a world-originating power in all language.
Poetry is simply a use of language that becomes revelatory for us because we agree to pay a particular kind of attention to it, to treat it with a particular kind of irony.3
Politicians listen to the experts; there's no one else to trust. My latest crush is infatuated with shadows but I need a more indelible darkness. Devotion to only one thing is the death of imagination. Speak now or roll with the punches, consequences fences incendiary statements like Horowitz conspicuous absence of black panthers the mantra continues Madonna packs venues, in Europe New York and France, live in Providence - Star Wars continues our parents' intentions.
I hate Waterfire because there's too much damn music playing. The low cellos like oysters and violins! There's a callus on my heart that turns my poem into dust, the startling, need-blind monsters. Peter didn't know what to do, so he said look here Lord, I'll make a tent for our ancestors.
I received a bracelet made of rattan and bitter wine, under cover I am wrenching inside for you. Nupa' a mad melon or fever blister, when the time comes I'll be ready to rip off this poisoned skin and bleed poetry. I need to go faster. Simply waiting for something to happen, a poison drips into my skull, pointed like a dart-fish, palms upward to catch the spikes. Who is this lover? The time poses its own question, woven like chinos, like a rainbow-belted Zapatista, black the color of your true love's heart. A story she once told me: people do not like to be surprised. The thrill thrill thrill is gone, leaving you with an empty balcony, yellow suns, weeds blooming, the tree lined pavement a hot, hot place for sex. If I were an outlaw I'd be on my way to Mexico on a black motorcycle, dying of bone cancer, out like capital flight, seducing young girls who vacation in Baja. The syndrome is nothing compared to the disease. Keep going until you have what, a park bench, a dirty bracelet made of wood, a rusty needle? I have such a teacher. The plan took effect without your knowledge, as you desired. And even the policemen ride bicycles.
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My friend Jun Xu is training to be a consultant. He graduates from college this spring and will go to work for a huge and famous firm on the West Coast. Now he is working with a professor to stage competitions with the other majors, where they play the lay-off game. Young would-be consultants receive orders to save a floundering company, and order lay-offs in the tens of thousands. This simulation encourages them to think of people as numbers, and gets them ready for the big leagues. Jun and I were kids together, and I lean across the table, try to mess up his hair. He tells me to lay off.
1. Sun Tzu, The Art of War
2 Sun Tzu, The Art of War
3 Benjamin Bennett, Goethe's Theory of Poetry